Why do religions die?

I want to know why old religions fade like old fashions. I don’t think I’ve heard of anybody these days of praying to Zeus. Just throwing it out there but it’s something I’ve always wondered

Posted: September 27th 2011

Daniel Midgley www

We could think of it in terms of the memes, or ideas, that make up the religion. Some memes help, some hinder.

For example, many religions have had a celibacy meme, where all members of the religion must remain celibate. If a religion has this meme, it means that the religion has to get all its growth from converts.

The celibacy meme is a killer — religions that have it (the Shakers, the cult of Father Divine) have all died out. On the other hand, religions that encourage the having (and the indoctrinating) of children remain robust.

Churches that have been around for a while have salubrious memes, and are making the right moves… so far.

Posted: October 2nd 2011

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Some religions are more virulent than others; they are better at spreading themselves to new converts and better at keeping hold of their believers. In many cases they have evolved, and the evolved versions are better at sticking around.

If you look at christianity, it has some powerful benefits. Not only do you get to live forever, you get forgiven for everything that you have done in the past. That’s a great driver to get the non-religious people to become christian.

I don’t think it’s surprising that christianity has grown more than judaism, where you havce to ask the people you wronged for forgiveness.

Posted: October 2nd 2011

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SmartLX www

Belief in gods either fades, or is transferred to newer or more popular gods.

The latter is more common, because it’s what happens when a religion is spread by force or other authority. Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire by imperial decree, and afterwards its soldiers spread it to the far reaches of the known world.

This happened to Zeus himself, in a roundabout way. The Romans conquered Greece and merged the Greek gods with their own; Zeus effectively became the Greek word for Jupiter, Hermes for Mercury, Ares for Mars and so on. When the Romans embraced Christianity, the Greeks followed suit. Even before that, Christianity was likely founded in Greece by Paul the Apostle, so the eventual change of state religion was not heavily resisted.

Posted: October 1st 2011

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